Posted: 29/11/2015 at 14:28
Not the ideal prep for this tough cross-country race in that I'd come down with a sore throat and associated symptoms early in the week. The sore throat had gone and I felt ok, if a bit snotty. So decided I might as well run anyway...if nothing else it would be good prep for next weeks XC league fixture.
Had a somewhat disturbed night due to small children plus a bout of insomnia so laid in until 7:30. Slight error as this meant I didn't eat my porridge until 8am but I figured that would still give me 2 hours before the race start at 10am. Arrived with half an hour to sort out my number and warm up. Couldn't decide what to wear as there was a wind that could be described as ferocious blowing and heavy rain forecast. I'd decided to opt for shorts, t-shirt and vest with extra clothes in my bag in case I came over nesh after the warm up. But option a was fine and after a mile of jogging and a few strides we were ready for the off.
The first bit goes out of the visitors centre and loops around a field. The footing was ok, bit muddy but not horrendous but the wind was horrible. Just as we started a squally shower started up as well so icy rain blowing straight into your face. Marvellous. First mile came in around 7:32, felt ok although was probably a bit far up the field and had been warned this race was a toughie so started to worry a bit. Afetr the first mile the course passes the visitors centre again (requiring hurdling a couple of low fences) and then wiggles around through some woodland - a mixture of short up and downhills, lots of changes in direction, some path, some grass, some rooty undergrowth. Second mile was a bit slower in 7:40 or so but was ok with that. At three miles I realised that I had an issue with mucus in that I kept having to clear my throat and deal with snot and this kept disturbing my breathing pattern, due to that my breathing pattern has increased to a 2/1 which is my normal end of short race pattern so realised I was probably in a bit of trouble.
At some point we had to cross quite a deep river. There was a steepish bank down to it and then thigh high freezing water with a step out the otehr side that you couldn't even see. After that my legs felt like they belonged to someone else. We then left the shelter of the woodland and started to run around some fields. Of course it was incredibly exposed and at certain points you felt like you couldn't even run at all. My average pace was now dropping quite severely and a couple of clubmates had passed and I realised it wasn't on for me so I should just be conservative. We passed the visitors centre again and the urge to DNF was very strong but my pride wouldn't let me.
The course organisers had used all the tricks of the trade - there were numerous switchbacks up and down inclines, muddy bits, a river, fallen tree to hurdle, more fences to hurdle. And the overarching strength of the wind all designed to sap the strength in your legs.
After 5 miles we passed back out into the fields again - just a loop of the field but again they'd used all of the natural features to knock you down. We had to run in and out of three bomb craters. the first was the toughest as the sides were very steep and it was hard to run in and out of. A girl from Massey had overtaken me and I overtook her back in one of these but she got me back again. Mile 5 and 6 were like 8.5 mm pace. Finally with a couple of miles to go I was able to pick up the pace again a little and bring it home but still couldn't catch the Massey girl.
Finished in 1.03 something and 10th lady (although only the 5th lady from my club!), which I was very pleased to find I had